This blog is moving!

July 17, 2009

This blog is moving, please visit us at our new location right on the Travel Insured website! For the first month or two we will continue to post in both locations, but we’d love for you to join us on our website and subscribe to our RSS feed there. Click here to view the new blog.

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Tropical Storm Andres Officially Identified & Named By U.S. Weather Service on June 21, 2009

June 23, 2009

 

A Tropical Storm formed in the eastern Pacific, 200 miles south of Zihuatanejo, Mexico and 330 miles southeast of Manzanillo, Mexico, and was identified and given the name Tropical Storm Andres by the U.S. National Hurricane Center at 8 p.m. PDT [11 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time]  on Sunday, June 21, 2009. The storm was named after reaching maximum sustained winds of 40 miles per hour.

 

Travel Insured plans purchased at or after 11 p.m. EDT [8 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time] on June 21,  2008 will not provide coverage for adverse weather claims resulting from Tropical Storm Andres or its resulting weather pattern. Plan holders may contact our Customer Care Department [ info@travelinsured.com ] with questions about this announcement.

 

According to the U.S. National Hurricane Service, reporting at 5 a.m. PDT [8 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time] on Tuesday, June 23, 2009, Andres intensified in strength to 70 m.p.h. winds and is expected to become a hurricane [minimum 74 m.p.h. sustained winds] later on the date of June 23. As of the 5 a.m. June 23 report, Tropical Storm Andres was centered 110 miles south-southeast of Manzanillo, Mexico, moving northwest at 9 m.p.h., and was expected to reach the southwestern coast of Mexico within 24 hours.

  

Additional resources for storm related questions:

 

U.S. National Weather Service: www.noaa.gov
The Weather Channel: www.weather.com

American Red Cross: www.redcross.org

Federal Emergency Management Agency: www.fema.gov


National Weather Service 2009 Hurricane Forecast + 2008 Storm Activity Serve as Reminders to Add Travel Insurance

June 8, 2009

 The start of the 2009 Atlantic Hurricane Season begins today, a week after the NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration) Weather Service Climate Prediction Center issued its forecast for the Atlantic Season. The forecasters predict between 9 and 14 named storms, of which 4 to 7 may become hurricanes, including one major storm of Category 3 (111 m.p.h.) or larger. The outlook is 50% probable for a “near normal” season that averages 11 named storms including six hurricanes of which two are majors. There is, according to NOAA, a 25% probability for “above-normal” 2009 storm activity, and a 25% probability for “below-normal” activity.

Travel Insured International reminds travelers that seasonal National Weather Service hurricane forecasts combined with actual seasonal results since 2005, the year of Hurricane Katrina, show how unpredictable hurricane seasons can be. While the NWS Prediction Center has forecast the number of storms with remarkable accuracy, especially in the last two years following the record storm activity of 2005 and the quieter 2006, there are surprising results each year.

Last year, for example, six (6) consecutive named storms (Hurricane Dolly, Tropical Storm Edouard, Tropical Storm Fay, Hurricane Gustav, Hurricane Hanna and Hurricane Ike) struck the U.S. for the first time ever. There were also major category 3 Atlantic hurricanes in each of five consecutive 2008 months for the first time, including Bertha in July, Gustav in August, Ike in September, Omar in October and Paloma in November.

The storm data is a reminder that adding travel insurance provides peace of mind in protecting against hurricane-related trip cancellation and delays when traveling during the hurricane season from June 1 until November 1. Remember, however, that you must plan early, preferably with your initial trip deposit, to get protection from an unforeseen hurricane disruption. Once a storm has been named by the National Weather Service you cannot obtain coverage against any storm-related disruption from that storm!

 Hurricane-Related Travel Insured Coverage

Trip Cancellation: Travel Insured International’s Worldwide Trip Protector plans can provide coverage for Trip Cancellation if weather causes complete cessation of your common carrier for 24 or more consecutive hours. This coverage can also protect you if a hurricane or natural disaster renders your destination accommodations uninhabitable. And it can protect you if your primary residence within 10 days of your scheduled departure is made uninhabitable by a flood or other natural disaster.

Trip Interruption – Mandatory Evacuation: If local authorities order a mandatory evacuation at your destination due to a hurricane or other natural disaster during your trip and at the end of the evacuation you have 50% or less of your trip remaining, this coverage can protect you.

Cancel for Any Reason: When you are concerned about the potential of traveling when a storm might be building but has not yet reached your destination, your best option is to purchase a Cancel for Any Reason upgrade within 14 days of your initial trip deposit. This option will allow you to cancel up to two or more days prior to your scheduled destination for up to 75% reimbursement of your non-refundable prepaid vacation costs. But remember the insurance and option must be purchased before the storm is named for coverage to apply!

Trip Delay: A weather-caused delay of your common carrier for six or more hours can provide Trip Delay coverage of up to $500, $750, or $1,500 depending upon the  terms of the Worldwide Trip Protector plan you purchase.

Missed Port of Call: Worldwide Trip Protector and Gold plans offer a “Missed Port of Call” benefit that addresses cruise or tour disruptions due to unforeseen events such as hurricanes. Insured passengers who prepay for a non-refundable shore activity in a port of call, or a scheduled stop on a tour, but miss the activity due to a change of itinerary, can be reimbursed up to $750 unless the missed activity is rescheduled during the course of the trip.

Missed Connection: This coverage can protect you if, as a result of a weather-related disruption of your common carrier for three or more hours, you miss your cruise or tour departure. Benefits can be paid up to the limits specified on your selected Worldwide Trip Protector plan.


Travel Insurance: Strong medicine in a single dose

May 21, 2009

May 19th, 2009    by IsaacCymrot

There is one over riding complaint that I hear from almost every agent this year. You are frustrated with the reduction in commissions, whether due to cuts by suppliers, the impact of clients buying cheaper trips, or the rise in Non Commissionable Fares (NCFs).  Despite seeing an increase in the number of policies sold this year, I am still baffled by the overall sales closing ratio for many agencies remaining so low.  In 2007 the United States Travel Insurance Association (USTIA) found that travel agents only sold third-party travel insurance 30% of the time–30%!

In today’s market it is remarkable to see the amount of insurance commission that travel agents still leave on the table despite their business challenges. You face shrinking commissions, increasing NCFs, and concerns about the financial instability of many tour suppliers. Bankruptcy and default is the most important reason for you to offer a third party insurance policy, especially in today’s economy.  Tour supplier’s cannot cover themselves for bankruptcy and default and if you have been in the industry long enough have probably been affected by these events.  However, there is more than one reason to offer third party travel insurance and they can benefit both you and your client.

Third-party travel insurance pays the highest commissions in the industry.  All major travel insurance companies offer commissions ranging from 15% to 38% or more. This dwarfs the 10% paid by most tour suppliers.  Additionally, some third-party travel insurers offer agents commission protection (protecting as much as 15%). This compares to most tour suppliers that cap their commission protection at $100, if they offer any at all.

The best way to demonstrate the profitability of a properly executed insurance program is to give some agency examples. When offered with conviction and included as part of the sale price, third-party travel insurance offers the best protection to the client and the agency, while delivering a significant amount of money to these agencies’ bottom lines.

The agency in each of the following examples increased their third-party travel insurance sales by at least 25%. One agency now closes insurance with 70% of their travel sales!  That translated into an additional $12,350 in commission in 2008 for this retailer. Even the agency with the smallest increase (26%) still earned $7,000 more than the prior year.

The first example is a medium-sized agency that previously offered the client the option of tour supplier insurance or third-party insurance.  Typically, the client would pick whichever option was cheaper and ignored the differences in coverage.  One client suffered a heart attack during their vacation.  It was later determined that the attack related to a pre-existing condition.  The client had purchased the tour supplier’s insurance which offered no pre-existing medical conditions coverage.  Unfortunately, this agency’s client was stuck paying a $10,000-plus medical bill because the tour supplier insurance denied their claim due to a pre-existing condition.

The incident convinced the agency owner that it was imperative to only sell a third-party travel insurance company that offered a pre-existing conditions waiver.  At the time the agency was only selling third party insurance to 13% of its clients.  In three years since making the change to exclusively offer third-party insurance the agency’s sales increased to 70% on third party insurance. Their commissions have increased substantially.  Additionally, the agency recovered a total of $3,000 in lost tour supplier commissions by using the commission protection benefit offered by their third-party insurance provider.

A second agency offered their clients a choice between two competing third-party travel insurance companies, but one client suffered a similar loss. One of the agency’s best clients referred his brother to the agency to book his vacation.  The brother had always booked his travel online and had never used a travel agent. This time he chose to use a travel agent because he was planning an expensive two-week trip to Asia.  The agent arranged the trip which cost over $17,000.

When the time to talk about insurance arrived, the agent handed the client two brochures from competing travel insurance companies.  The client rejected both policies, did not sign a waiver and chose to travel without any trip cancellation coverage.  Three days before the client was scheduled to depart on the trip he had to be hospitalized.  The doctor advised that he must not go on his trip.  The brother lost his $17,000 vacation and sued the agency for not recommending a travel insurance product.  The agency also lost one of its best clients for failing to insist that the brother add an insurance plan.

The agent asked the client’s brother why he had not purchased the insurance that was offered to him. His answer was that because the agent could not confidently recommend one insurance company over another he did not feel comfortable buying either product. This incident convinced the agency owner to offer only one insurance product.  This new approach immediately inspired new client confidence in the agency’s recommendations.  The simple switch helped increase the agency third-party insurance sales by 38% in the first year.  The result was an additional $9,500 in commission for the agency.

The last example is an agency that offered one third-party insurance product. It limited the amount of tour supplier insurance that was offered and sold to the client.  The agency owner, seeing that he was losing revenue due to clients declining coverage, implemented a system requiring the agents to include insurance with their quotes.  The owner had felt clients were hesitant to spend extra money even if they felt insurance was a good idea.  By including insurance in each trip quote the agent never had to ask the client to spend extra money.

This agency has been using this model for only six months and has seen insurance sales increase by 26%.  If you calculate this growth on an annual basis, it results in almost $7,000 in additional commission to the agency.

The agencies in all of the above examples have increased their annual insurance sales dramatically. In each case the owner made similar changes.  The changes included:

 

  1. Instructing his or her agents to include the travel insurance cost when they quoted their clients. The trip quote included the following statement: “This quote includes your trip cost, airfare, taxes, fees and optional travel insurance.”
  2. Requiring a signed client waiver acknowledging that third- party insurance was offered by the agent but declined by the client. This procedure was required before the agent was authorized to release travel documents to the client. Additionally, the signed client waiver releasing the agency was required even if the client purchased a tour or cruise supplier’s own insurance.
  3. Recommending only one travel insurance product. Discontinuing the practice of presenting two or three insurance brochures for the client to pick from.

 

When it comes to travel insurance you want to do the best thing for your client. Travel insurance can be a confusing and intimidating subject for many people, requiring some guidance from you as their agent.  If you take the time to learn the basics and recognize the advantages to be gained for both your clients and your agency from developing your own working knowledge of the subject, you will become more and more comfortable recommending third-party travel insurance.

As a travel professional you spend hours learning about the destinations and cruise ships that you sell on a daily basis.  The more you study the more comfortable and confident you become making recommendations to your clients.  Travel insurance is no different.  If you take the time to partner with one travel insurance company, and have someone you trust assisting you, then you will be able to implement the same strategies mentioned in the examples above.

There is plenty of uncertainty in our industry today, reflecting the unstable economy.
It is important to know how every potential travel risk situation could affect you and your client.  There is a healthy balance involved in doing both what is right for your client and remembering at the same time the best interests of your agency business. You can immediately satisfy both needs by offering a third-party travel insurance policy to every single person that buys a trip from your agency.

Challenge yourself for one month to adopt all three strategies mentioned in this article and find out for yourself how successful your travel insurance program can become.


Updated Coverage Alert – Swine Flu Outbreak

May 1, 2009

Travel Insured continues to closely monitor the outbreak of Swine Flu and the potential impact to our customers.  Many travel suppliers, such as airlines, cruise lines and tour operators, are already working with customers to reroute, reschedule or cancel travel arrangements with no penalties or fees.  Travelers concerned about upcoming travel to affected areas are encouraged to contact their travel suppliers.  

At this time we are covering Swine Flu as any other Sickness.  However, cancellation or interruption due to the concern of contracting the Swine Flu is not covered.  Cancellation or Interruption due to Sickness requires documentation by the attending physician.

Coverage does not include concern of traveling to a specific region, and generally there is no coverage due to government regulations or advisories to specific regions.  However, Travel Insured does provide Cancel for Any Reason coverage to travelers purchasing the Cancel for Any Reason option with their Travel Insured plan and cancelling their trip two or more days prior to their scheduled trip departure date.

We have prepared answers to many of the questions we have been receiving from our customers along with some general information on the swine flu. We will continue to monitor the situation and update our position as developments occur.  If you have a question that is not addressed below, please call us at 1-800-243-3174 or via live chat at www.travelinsured.com.

  

Frequently Asked Questions

 

  • Can I still purchase insurance for this outbreak of swine flu?
    Yes. If you or other covered individuals contract swine flu before or while traveling, coverage will be provided for Sickness as specified in the terms and conditions of your policy.
     
  • Am I covered for swine flu?

Cancel for Any Reason

If your policy includes our optional Cancel for Any Reason coverage; you may cancel your trip at any time up to two days prior to departure and receive up to 75% of your total trip cost.

 

Trip Cancellation – Interruption

We are treating Swine Flu as any other sickness supporting Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption as per the terms and conditions of your policy.  Claims will require supporting statement from your attending physician.

 

Emergency Accident & Sickness Medical Expense
Swine flu would be considered an emergency medical condition if you contract it while traveling.
 

Emergency Medical Transportation
If you contract swine flu, contact our Assistance company.  If evacuation is required as determined by our consulting physician and the local attending physician, we will take you to the appropriate medical facility. All transportation must be authorized and arranged by the Assistance Company.

Travel Delay

If you are quarantined because of swine flu, many of our policies will pay a daily per person benefit up to the coverage limit for unexpected meals, accommodations and transportation that result from your delay.  Please review your specific policy for the terms and limits that apply. 

 

  • What if I am Quarantined?

Quarantine coverage is included under Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption and Trip Delay benefits, in the event a physician quarantines the traveler/insured for any illness which prevents traveling.  Quarantine means that the person is restricted to their home or a medical facility; not restricted from one country or destination.

  • How can I find out if my travel supplier will allow me to change the dates of my trip?
    Many travel suppliers, such as airlines, cruise lines and tour operators, are already working with customers to reroute, reschedule or cancel travel arrangements with no penalties or fees.  We recommend travelers concerned about upcoming travel to affected areas, to contact their travel suppliers.
     
  • Can I change the travel dates on my policy if my supplier is allowing me to rebook?
    Yes. We are happy to adjust the travel dates on your policy provided that you have not filed a claim and you have not departed on your trip and your new travel dates are within eighteen months of your original application date.   If your supplier will charge you a change fee, we will not be able to cover that unless you file a claim on your existing policy. Should you choose to file a claim, you will need to purchase a new policy for the new trip.
     
  • Can I cancel if I am concerned about traveling?
    No.  Our policies provide coverage for Trip Cancellation due to specific listed reasons that are unforeseen prior to purchase.  Coverage is not provided for concern of traveling other than coverage provided under our Cancel for Any Reason option.
     
  • Does my policy cover medical care if I become ill while traveling in Mexico?
    Yes.  Swine Flu will be treated as any other Sickness under the terms and conditions of your policy.
     
  • What should I do if I become sick while traveling?
    Seek medical care immediately.   Contact our Assistance Service provider for help in locating a doctor or nearest medical facility.  Contact information and phone numbers are included in your Description of Coverage and on your Confirmation of Benefits.  Be sure to take your policy documents with you when you travel and have these important phone numbers readily available.

Updated Coverage Alert – Swine Flu Outbreak

April 30, 2009

Travel Insured continues to closely monitor the outbreak of Swine Flu and the potential impact to our customers.  Many travel suppliers, such as airlines, cruise lines and tour operators, are already working with customers to reroute, reschedule or cancel travel arrangements with no penalties or fees.  Travelers concerned about upcoming travel to affected areas are encouraged to contact their travel suppliers.  

At this time we are covering Swine Flu as any other Sickness.  However, cancellation or interruption due to the concern of contracting the Swine Flu is not covered.  Cancellation or Interruption due to Sickness requires documentation by the attending physician.

Coverage does not include concern of traveling to a specific region, and generally there is no coverage due to government regulations or advisories to specific regions.  However, Travel Insured does provide Cancel for Any Reason coverage to travelers purchasing the Cancel for Any Reason option with their Travel Insured plan and cancelling their trip two or more days prior to their scheduled trip departure date.

We have prepared answers to many of the questions we have been receiving from our customers along with some general information on the swine flu. We will continue to monitor the situation and update our position as developments occur.  If you have a question that is not addressed below, please call us at 1-800-243-3174 or via live chat at www.travelinsured.com.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can I still purchase insurance for this outbreak of swine flu?
    Yes. If you or other covered individuals contract swine flu before or while traveling, coverage will be provided for Sickness as specified in the terms and conditions of your policy.
     
  • Am I covered for swine flu?

Cancel for Any Reason

If your policy includes our optional Cancel for Any Reason coverage; you may cancel your trip at any time up to two days prior to departure and receive up to 75% of your total trip cost.

Trip Cancellation – Interruption

We are treating Swine Flu as any other sickness supporting Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption as per the terms and conditions of your policy.  Claims will require supporting statement from your attending physician.

Emergency Accident & Sickness Medical Expense
Swine flu would be considered an emergency medical condition if you contract it while traveling. 

Emergency Medical Transportation
If you contract swine flu, contact our Assistance company.  If evacuation is required as determined by our consulting physician and the local attending physician, we will take you to the appropriate medical facility. All transportation must be authorized and arranged by the Assistance Company.

Travel Delay
If you are quarantined because of swine flu, many of our policies will pay a daily per person benefit up to the coverage limit for unexpected meals, accommodations and transportation that result from your delay.  Please review your specific policy for the terms and limits that apply. 

 

  • What if I am Quarantined?

    Quarantine coverage is included under Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption and Trip Delay benefits, in the event a physician quarantines the traveler/insured for any illness which prevents traveling.  Quarantine means that the person is restricted to their home or a medical facility; not restricted from one country or destination.

  • How can I find out if my travel supplier will allow me to change the dates of my trip?
    Many travel suppliers, such as airlines, cruise lines and tour operators, are already working with customers to reroute, reschedule or cancel travel arrangements with no penalties or fees.  We recommend travelers concerned about upcoming travel to affected areas, to contact their travel suppliers.
     
  • Can I change the travel dates on my policy if my supplier is allowing me to rebook?
    Yes. We are happy to adjust the travel dates on your policy provided that you have not filed a claim and you have not departed on your trip and your new travel dates are within eighteen months of your original application date.   If your supplier will charge you a change fee, we will not be able to cover that unless you file a claim on your existing policy. Should you choose to file a claim, you will need to purchase a new policy for the new trip.
     
  • Can I cancel if I am concerned about traveling?
    No.  Our policies provide coverage for Trip Cancellation due to specific listed reasons that are unforeseen prior to purchase.  Coverage is not provided for concern of traveling other than coverage provided under our Cancel for Any Reason option.
     
  • Does my policy cover medical care if I become ill while traveling in Mexico?
    Yes.  Swine Flu will be treated as any other Sickness under the terms and conditions of your policy.
     
  • What should I do if I become sick while traveling?
    Seek medical care immediately.   Contact our Assistance Service provider for help in locating a doctor or nearest medical facility.  Contact information and phone numbers are included in your Description of Coverage and on your Confirmation of Benefits.  Be sure to take your policy documents with you when you travel and have these important phone numbers readily available.

Travel Insured International Statement Regarding Coverage of Swine Flu Illness

April 28, 2009

At this time we are covering Swine Flu as any other Sickness. However, cancellation or interruption due to the fear of contracting the Swine Flu are not covered. Cancellation or Interruption due to Sickness requires documentation by the attending physician.

Travel Insured does provide Cancel for Any Reason coverage to travelers purchasing the Cancel for Any Reason option with their Travel Insured plan and cancelling their trip two or more days prior to their scheduled trip departure date.

Travel Insured plans provide Emergency Sickness Medical Expense and Emergency Medical Evacuation benefits for all necessary medical events, including those resulting from an insured traveler’s contraction of swine flu.

If a Travel Insured policy holder is subjected to an imposed quarantine as the result of swine flu, Travel Insured Trip Delay benefits will apply as normally specified in each plan’s Description of Coverage.

Worldwide Emergency Travel Assistance, included with every Travel Insured plan, will continue to be provided in all travel emergencies, whether or not related to a swine flu illness.